7.9 out of 10

Issaquah

Ranked 3rd best city in Washington
47.5476163390626 -122.025673875488
Great for
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Safe & Sound
  • Clean & Green
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Nightlife
  • Public Transport
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Cost of Living
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Professionals
  • Country Lovers
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
Feb 18, 2016

"Full of families and a great lake"

I haven’t spent too much time in Issaquah yet, even though it’s close by. Mostly it’s just families that live there and people who like going into the mountains. I have a friend who is married with a small kid that lives in the Issaquah Highlands, that area seems pretty nice. There’s a lot of restaurants and stores. It’s all really new too. The rest of Issaquah seems kinda just like a suburb or small family town, with a few stores, lots of houses, and older buildings. The scenery is nice though being right next to the mountains.

I wouldn’t live there right now as a young single guy because there’s not much happening. Sure there’s a few pubs and restaurants, but nothing good for nightlife and no concert venues worth going to.

I’ve been here to go swimming though! Lake Sammamish State Park is AWESOME for how close it is. And my buddy has a couple of jet skis so that’s fun too. Only problem is getting there early enough to set up, launch, find parking, and get on the lake before it gets crazy on a weekend in the summer. The launch is pretty decent though. Then there’s a ton of BBQ stands for after jet skiing. Awesome spot for a summer day with friends.

Right next to the State Park there are some restaurants. I really like Isushi, it’s one of those sushi places where there’s a giant conveyor belt where the sushi goes by and you choose whatever looks good. For when we’re too lazy to BBQ haha. Actually Microsoft even has a building down here so some of my lucky colleagues get to work literally right next to the park. Maybe I should request a transfer!
Pros
  • Close to outdoor activities
Cons
  • Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
5/5
Feb 03, 2016

"Tons of trail running"

The small mountains south of Issaquah are heaven for trail running. They are challenging and long, with endless options. Unless it’s mid to late summer, when the trails get super dry, you’ll want to throw on something you can get covered in mud, and embrace the grime, because a lot of these trails can get pretty muddy for a lot of the year.

Cougar Mountain usually has maps at the main trailheads, so grab one of those because it’s a maze. I avoid the mountain bike trails on Tiger Mountain, because I don’t want to get run over. But other than that, it’s a killer place to explore. Just pay careful attention to your turns so you don’t get lost.

Once in a while I’ll stop at the Issaquah Brew House afterwards, which is a chill place on Front Street. The Salmon Sandwich is the best, and healthy. Plus obviously the brews are good.
Pros
  • Trail running
  • Close to outdoor activities
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Feb 03, 2016

"Near skiing and dog-friendly hiking"

I briefly considered living in Issaquah, but the daily commute to South Lake Union just wasn’t worth it for me, since all traffic to Seattle has to cross Lake Washington on two bridges.

The reason I considered living here is because it’s so close to Snoqualmie Pass, where I ski occasionally. It would be incredible to be only a 30-minute drive from skiing! However, skiing has become more unpredictable, due to climate change and variable weather patterns. Winters are getting warmer here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Snoqualmie Pass closes as a ski area within the next decade, due to its low elevation.

Besides the ski access, Issaquah is very close to plenty of dog-friendly trails. A few that my dog and I like:

--Little Si: a more friendly option for our four-legged friends than the full Mt. Si, and with a rewarding view at the peak.
--Poo Poo point: A challenging hike up West Tiger Mountain that takes you to the launch point of the paragliders
--Cave Hole Trail: on the west side of Cougar Mountain, this wide path criss-crosses other smaller paths if you want to lengthen the walk. It’s called cave hole trail due to the old mining sink holes. You’re warned via large signs not to leave the trail as you may fall in a sink hole.

If you do explore further into the mountains, keep a close eye on whether you are entering official Wilderness, because dogs are not allowed on much of this highly protected land.
Pros
  • Close to outdoor activities
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
Jan 31, 2016

"Access to world-class outdoor recreation, but a long commute"

Being in such close proximity to the Cascade Mountains, Issaquah is a jumping-off point for hiking, biking, and other activities. Many Seattle and Bellevue commuters live here, though for me personally, the commute to downtown Seattle is too lengthy.

But Issaquah and the surrounding area is a wonderful place to visit regularly. My husband and I make it here at least once a month, year round, for hiking and biking. It astounds me that there is such a large percentage of local Seattle residents that don’t take advantage of being a half hour drive (when there is no traffic) from outstanding outdoor recreation.

The closest hikes are on Cougar, Squak, and Tiger Mountains, just to the South of Issaquah. These are generally accessible year-round, though from time to time in the winter, snow will briefly cover the top. But if you bring hiking poles and sturdy shoes, it is nothing to worry about.

But only a few miles more, just past Issaquah, you can hike to a stunning view at Rattlesnake Ledge. Though, truth be told, it can be extremely crowded on summer weekends.

Rattlesnake Ledge is part of the excellent Rattlesnake Lake recreation site, home to dozens of hikes, and the entry point for the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Though I generally prefer road biking, this gentle trail is comprised of a repurposed railway line. Therefore, it is very wide, with only a faint incline, and well-covered in fine gravel. You could follow it for many dozens or even hundreds of miles, deep into the Eastern side of the state.

In conclusion, Issaquah and the surrounding land is a haven for those who enjoy getting out into nature.
Pros
  • Close to outdoor activities
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
Jan 01, 2016

"Popular Eastside Burb"

Character
Issaquah is nestled against the Cascade foothills just south of Lake Sammamish. It was once a small town on the outskirts of Seattle where traffic signals defaulted to flashing red at night. In recent years, it has grown into a bedroom community for commuters who work in Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond.

It is a great area, but it does have some growing pains. The downtown area is becoming congested and many city services are at their capacity. In recent years, the only elementary school in the Highlands area has been filled to capacity and new elementary school kids end up commuting to different areas or attending private schools.

Cost of Living
Like many of Seattle’s eastside neighborhoods, Issaquah is an upper-income area. In 2014, the median household income was just over $88,000. A middle-class family would struggle to make ends meet but it is less expensive than Bellevue or Redmond. The median home price is around $445,000, which is significantly lower than that in Bellevue or Redmond.

Like anyplace else, prices outside the town center are lower. There do seem to be more condos, apartments, and townhomes in Issaquah then there are in Sammamish or Redmond so you may have better luck here if you are looking to rent or buy something smaller than the average 3-bedroom house.

Traffic and Parking
Issaquah is growing quickly and traffic is becoming more and more congested especially in the central area. It’s a car-centered suburb so with plenty of parking overall. You won't have any trouble finding parking near homes and businesses.

Commuting
Issaquah is right off of I-90 about 17 miles southeast of Seattle, but don’t let the short distance fool you. I-90 is one of two routes across Lake Washington into downtown Seattle and it gets congested. The other route across the SR 520 bridge has tolls both ways so most folks crowd onto I-90. A Seattle to Issaquah commute, on average, will take about 40 minutes each way. When traffic is bad, the drive is over a mile. There are lots of bus options so a lot of Seattle commuters take express buses downtown instead of driving.

Commuting to Bellevue from Issaquah is more doable, it’s just a quick 15-minute drive down I-90.

Issaquah to Redmond is also doable, but you will have to choose between the slow route along West Lake Sammamish Pkwy which will take around 30 minutes or the potentially-faster-but-never-faster route along I-90, I-405 and SR 520. I-90 and I-405 are major choke points and I-405 can be a nightmare in rush hour. Most folks say SR 520 eastbound from Bellevue to Redmond isn't bad.

Shopping and Restaurants
There is a wide selection of shops and restaurants to choose from in Issaquah. The Grand Ridge Plaza in the Issaquah Highlands is a popular place to stroll and shop. It’s an ever-expanding open-air, pedestrian-friendly shopping center with lots of shops, restaurants and a movie theater. There’s plenty of parking and it’s a short distance from parking to your favorite shops.

Weather
What can I say about the weather in Western Washington other than it’s cloudy and raining in the winter and less cloudy and rainy in the summer? Yes, it's true that the amount of rain is less than in some places, but the character of the rain is downright dreary. If you move here from nearly anywhere else in the U.S. it will seem gloomy most of the time. You’ll get used to it. Invest in a solid pair of waterproof shoes and a hooded rain coat. It really only rains about 3 days of the week, but in the winter, it stays cloudy even when it’s not raining. Summers are short and pleasant.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
Dec 15, 2015

"Great community for families just 20 minutes from Seattle"

The Village Theatre (http://villagetheatre.org/issaquah/) is a great option for those into plays. I went to one or two performances every year with my family growing up.

Once a year, Salmon Days Festival takes place and is a gathering the entire community rallies behind. I haven't gone in years, but went every year as a kid growing up in nearby Sammamish.

One big plus to Issaquah is you're only about 25 minutes from Summit at Snoqualmie for skiing/boarding in the winter, and hiking in the summer. Lake Sammamish state park is a great spot in the summer for picnics and swimming.

To get to downtown Seattle, you take the 554 or 214 from the Issaquah Park and Ride. It's about a 25 minute ride, depending on traffic. Not a super short commute, but not bad considering potential commutes from other suburbs.
Pros
  • Peaceful
  • Great schools
  • Close to outdoor activities
Cons
  • Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Dec 15, 2015

"Quintessentially Northwest Seattle 'burb"

Issaquah is a gorgeous, rapidly-growing suburb about 15 miles east of Seattle, straddling I-90, the main east/west freeway in the state. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, it is quintessentially Northwest, with hiking trails leaving straight from some of the neighborhoods, and only 10 miles until you’re deep in the Cascade mountains.

Issaquah’s nearest neighboring city is actually Bellevue on the east side of Lake Washington, where many people commute to for work. Those that commute to Seattle have to cross one of the bridges over Lake Washington, which means the trip is usually pretty slow during rush hour, especially since the bridges seem to always be under construction. But since Issaquah is growing so quickly, they are investing wisely in big park-and-rides, with express buses downtown.

There are *four* main groups of shops and restaurants in Issaquah. One is along Gilman Blvd, which runs parallel to the I-90 freeway between exits 15 and 18. On the south side of this road is the little “Gilman Village,” with a cluster of walkable shops. This is where you’ll find my very favorite spot, Issaquah Coffee Company. I often stop here when I’m on my to a hike, or on my way back. It's super cozy inside, with frequently-changing art on the walls, a kids area, and really good coffee. From here, turning south on Front Street, you’ll come to the old downtown, with a community theater and a few more stores and restaurants. If you continue down this road, it leads you to Squak mountain with lots of hiking trails, and on into some of the farmland. There’s a fun little pumpkin patch there in the fall too.

Speaking of hiking, besides Squak Mountain, there are two other nearby “mountains” (really hills by Washington standards) with protected land for recreation. Cougar mountain is farthest west, and has a maze of hiking trails that start from nearby neighborhoods. Grab a map at one of the trailheads or you'll get lost. Then Squak Mountain is next, again with hiking. Finally, Tiger mountain, farther east, has not only hiking, but also a high-quality mountain biking trail system, and paragliding. On calm days you’ll see paragliders peacefully circling in the sky. My favorite thing is the mountain biking trails, where I have spent many summer days beating up my trusty Gary Fisher full suspension bike. There are easy, intermediate, and expert trails, and they’ve been building about one new trail a year. The only downside is that the trails are currently two-direction. I hope they upgrade to one-direction soon.

For hiking enthusiasts, if you head east on I-90, you go straight into the heart of the Cascades. Mt. Si is the first big hike you’ll hit, followed by one after another after another. You could do a different hike every weekend and not run out of options for years. One of the most popular is the gorgeous Snow Lake Hike, at Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass is the lowest-elevation option in Washington to cross the Cascades, and has a small, often muddy ski resort that unfortunately hasn’t been open much as our winters are warming.

So, all of that protected land to the south and east of Issaquah means that much of the new housing is popping up in the north. There is an all-new development off exit 18, Highlands Drive, with hundreds of new apartment buildings, new grocery stores, new restaurants, new gas stations. You get the idea. The fourth and final “downtown” area is also North of I-5, along Lake Sammamish Parkway.

Besides the mountains, Lake Sammamish is the other main outdoor draw nearby. Open to boats, water skiers, swimming, and floating, this large lake with a State Park is a good place to spend a hot summer day (which have been getting hotter around here!).

I suppose I should mention the one downside to Issaquah, which is the rent. You’d think that being 15 miles outside of Seattle would bring the rent down. But the proximity to nature and the good amenities brings those prices right back up. At time of writing, you’re probably looking at $1600 per month for a 1-bedroom. At least parking’s not a problem. If I were looking to buy though, I’d consider investing here, because it’s only going to keep growing. The other downside may be that the nightlife is definitely limited. For a night out, most people head to Seattle or Bellevue. Just make sure you have a designated driver, because a taxi or Uber home is going to set you back a good $50 or more.

Can you tell I’m in love with Issaquah? I live on Capitol Hill currently, but if I ever feel like moving out to the ‘burbs, this would be my first choice. It’s ideal for families and professionals, as well as people who love the outdoors or are looking for a quieter scene.
Pros
  • Close to outdoor activities
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • cost of living
  • Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

Unranked Neighborhoods in Issaquah

"New neighborhood in the foothills of the Cascades"
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